Saturday, September 17, 2011

Accomplishments By Period And Dynasty In Ancient China

Learn about ancient Chinese accomplishments and technological progress made beginning in the Neolithic Period. This covers Ancient China from roughly 12,000 B.C. through the 6th century A.D.

1. Neolithic

Neolithic Painted Pottery Jar CC unforth
The Neolithic (neo='new' lithic='stone') Period of Ancient China lasted from about 12,000 until about 2000 B.C.

Groups of Neolithic inhabitants (known by pottery style):

  • Yang-shao
  • Longshan
  • Qinglian
  • Dapenkeng
  1. Fu Xi (r. from 2850) may have been the first king.
  2. Shennong (the farmer king)
  3. Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor (r. 2696-2598)
  4. Yao (first of the Sage Kings)
  5. Shun (second of the Sage Kings)

Accomplishments of Interest:

  • The silk worm was cultivated to produce silk (Sericulture.).
  • Decorative jade
  • Copper and bronze tools
  • India ink11 and
  • Beginning of urban organization.

The neolithic people in ancient China may have had ancestor worship.

2. Bronze Age - Xia Dynasty

The Xia Dynasty ran from c. 2100 to c. 1800 B.C. Legend attributes the founding of the Xia dynasty to Yu, the third Sage King. There were said to be 17 rulers. Rule became hereditary.


  • Pasturage and Agriculture
  • Irrigation
  • Pottery
  • Ships
  • Lacquer
  • Silk
  • Spinning/Weaving
  • Carving

3. Bronze Age - Shang Dynasty (Yin Dynasty)

A bronze yue, late Shang era. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Shang Dynasty ran from c. 1800 - c.1100 B.C. Tang took control of the Xia kingdom.
  • There is evidence of human sacrifice.


  • Bronze vessels, weapons, and tools
  • Carved jade and turtle shells for divination
  • Glazed pottery
  • Lacquerware
  • Tombs
  • Calendar
  • Script14
  • War chariots drawn by horses probably brought to China by Steppe residents.
Of Interest:
  • Oracle Bones give witness to writing and divination practices.

4. Zhou Dynasty (Chou Dynasty)

Confucius Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Zhou Dynasty, from c. 1027 - c. 221 B.C., is divided into periods:
  1. Western Zhou 1027-771
  2. Eastern Zhou 770-221
    • 770-476 - Spring and Autumn
    • 475-221 - Warring States
The Zhou were originally semi-nomadic and had co-existed with the Shang. The dynasty was begun by Kings Wen (Ji Chang) and Zhou Wuwang (Ji Fa) who were considered ideal rulers, patrons of the arts, and descendants of the Yellow Emperor. This was the period of the great philosophers.

Technological Accomplishments and Inventions:

  • Cire perdue 'Lost wax'
  • Inlay
  • Iron casting
  • Iron weapons
  • Chariots
  • Dye
  • Glass
  • Astronomy
  • Magnetism
  • Arithmetic
  • Fractions
  • Geometry
  • Plowing
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Acupuncture

Human sacrifice appears to have disappeared.

5. Qin Dynasty

Terracotta Army in the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor. Public Domain, Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Qin Dynasty ran from 221-206 B.C. The first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, founded the Qin Dynasty. He built the Great Wall to keep out northern invaders, and centralized the Chinese government. His tomb contained 6000 terra cotta figurines commonly believed to be soldiers.

The Qin accomplishments:

  • Standardized weights, measures, coinage -- the bronze round coin with a square hole in the center
  • Relief Map (possibly)
  • Zoetrope (possibly)
  • Standardized writing, and
  • Standardized chariot axle widths
  • Compass.

6. Han Dynasty

Figure of a Squatting Drummer. Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220) Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Paul Gill
The Han Dynasty, which was founded by Liu Bang (Han Gaozu), lasted for four centuries (206 B.C.- A.D. 8, 25-220). During this period, Confucianism became state doctrine. China had contact with the west via the Silk Road. Under Emperor Han Wudi, the empire expanded into Asia.

Han Dynasty accomplishments:

  • Civil Service competitive exams
  • State Academy
  • Seismograph27 invented to detect earthquakes
  • Iron ploughs led by oxen became common; coal to smelt iron
  • Water-power mills
  • Censuses
  • Paper invented
  • Probably gunpowder.
7. Three Kingdoms
After the Han Dynasty of ancient China there was a period of constant civil war during which the three leading economic centers of the Han Dynasty tried to unify the land:
  1. The Cao-Wei Empire (220-265) from northern China
  2. The Shu-Han Empire (221-263) from the west, and
  3. The Wu Empire (222-280) from the east.
Accomplishments from this period and the next two:
  • Sugar
  • Pagodas
  • Private parks and gardens
  • Glazed earthenware
  • Porcelain
  • Parallax
  • Pi

Of Interest:

  • During this period, tea may have been discovered.

8. Chin Dynasty (Jin Dynasty)

Lasting from A.D. 265-420, the Chin Dynasty was started by Ssu-ma Yen (Sima Yan), who ruled as Emperor Wu Ti from A.D. 265-289. Ssu-ma Yen reunified China in 280 by conquering the Wu kingdom. After reuniting, he ordered the disbanding of the armies, but this order was not uniformly obeyed.

9. Northern Dynasty

Another period of disunity, the period of the Northern and Southern dynasties lasted from 317-589. The Northern Dynasties were:
  1. The Northern Wei (386-533)
  2. The Eastern Wei (534-540)
  3. The Western Wei (535-557)
  4. The Northern Qi (550-577)
  5. The Northern Zhou (557-588)
The Southern Dynasties were
  1. The Song (420-478)
  2. The Qi (479-501)
  3. The Liang (502-556)
  4. The Chen (557-588)

Accomplishments: See #7 Three Kingdoms.

Thanks to N. S. Gill / About Guide / The New York Times Company


Periods And Dynasties Of Ancient China

Neolithic, Xia, Shang, Zhou, Qin and Han Dynasties of Ancient China

Neolithic Painted Pottery Jar

Painted pottery jar with geometric design. Majiayao Culture: Banshan type (c. 2600-2300 B.C.) Neolithic Period HongKong Museum of Art.

CC unforth
Chinese recorded history goes back more than 3000 years and if you add archaeological evidence (including Chinese pottery), another millennium and a half, to roughly 2500 B.C. The center of Chinese government moved repeatedly throughout this period, as China absorbed more of eastern Asia. This article looks at the conventional divisions of the history of China into eras and dynasties, starting with the earliest about which we have any information and continuing through to Communist China.
"Events of the past, if not forgotten, are teachings about the future." - Sima Qian, Chinese historian of the late second century B.C.

The focus here is on the period of ancient Chinese history that begins with the advent of writing (as also for the Ancient Near East, Mesoamerica, and the Indus Valley) and ends with the period that corresponds best with a conventional date for the end of antiquity. Unfortunately, this date makes sense only in Europe: A.D. 476. That year is in the middle of the relevant Chinese period, the Southern Song and Northern Wei Dynasties, and is of no special significance for Chinese history.


First, according to historian Sima Qian, who chose to begin his Shiji (Records of the Historian) with the Yellow Emperor tale, Huang Di unified tribes along the Yellow River valley nearly 5,000 years ago. For these achievements, he is considered the founder of the Chinese nation and culture. Ever since 200BC, Chinese rulers, imperial and otherwise, have considered it politically convenient to sponsor an annual memorial ceremony in his honor. [URL =] Taipei Times - "Dumping the Yellow Emperor Myth"

The Neolithic (neo='new' lithic='stone') Period of Ancient China lasted from about 12,000 until about 2000 B.C. Hunting, gathering, and agriculture were practiced during this period. Silk was also produced from mulberry leaf-fed silkworms. The pottery forms of the Neolithic period were painted and black, representing the two cultural groups, Yangshao (in the mountains of the north and west of China) and Lungshan (in the plains in eastern China), as well as utilitarian forms for daily use.


It had been thought that the Xia were a myth, but radiocarbon evidence for this Bronze Age people suggests that the period ran from 2100 to 1800 B.C. Bronze vessels found at Erlitou along the Yellow River, in northern central China, also attest to the reality of the Xia.

The agrarian Xia were ancestors of the Shang.

More on the Xia

Reference: [URL =] The Golden Age of Classical Archaeology

Beginning of the Historical Era: Shang

The truth about the Shang (c. 1700-1027 B.C.), who, like the Xia, had been considered mythical, came as a result of the discovery of the writing on oracle bones. It is traditionally believed that there were 30 kings and 7 capitals of the Shang. The ruler lived at the center of his capital. The Shang had bronze weapons and vessels, as well as earthenware. The Shang are credited with inventing Chinese writing because there are written records, notably the oracle bones.


The Zhou were originally semi-nomadic and had co-existed with the Shang. The dynasty began with Kings Wen (Ji Chang) and Zhou Wuwang (Ji Fa) who were considered ideal rulers, patrons of the arts, and descendants of the Yellow Emperor. The great philosophers flourished in the Zhou period. They banned human sacrifice. The Zhou developed a feudal-like system of allegiance and government that lasted as long as any other dynasty in the world, from about 1040-221 B.C. It was adaptable enough that it survived when barbarian invaders forced the Zhou to move their capital to the East. The Zhou period is sub-divided into:

  • Western Zhou 1027-771 B.C.
  • Eastern Zhou 770-221 B.C.
    • 770-476 B.C. -- Spring and Autumn period
    • 475-221 B.C. -- Warring States period

During this period, iron tools were developed and population exploded. During the Warring States Period, only the Qin defeated their enemies.


The Qin Dynasty, which lasted from 221-206 B.C., was begun by the architect of the Great Wall of China, the first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi (aka Shi Huangdi or Shih Huang-ti) (r. 246/221 [start of the empire] -210 B.C.). The wall was built to repel nomadic invaders, the Xiongnu. Highways were also built. When he died, the emperor was buried in an enormous tomb with a terra cotta army for protection (alternatively, servants). During this period the feudal system was replaced by a strong central bureaucracy. The second emperor of the Qin was Qin Ershi Huangdi (Ying Huhai) who ruled from 209-207 B.C. The third emperor was the King of Qin (Ying Ziying) who ruled in 207 B.C.


The Han Dynasty, which was founded by Liu Bang (Han Gaozu), lasted for four centuries (206 B.C.- A.D. 8, 25-220). During this period, Confucianism became state doctrine. China had contact with the west via the Silk Road during this period. Under Emperor Han Wudi, the empire expanded into Asia. The dynasty is to divided into a Western Han and an Eastern Han because there was a split following the unsuccessful attempt by Wang Mang to reform the government. At the end of the Eastern Han, the empire was divided into three kingdoms by powerful warlords.

Political disunity followed the collapse of the Han Dynasty. This was when the Chinese developed gunpowder -- for fireworks.

Six Dynasties

Three Kingdoms

After the Han Dynasty of ancient China there was a period of constant civil war. The period from 220 to 589 is often called the period of 6 dynasties2, which covers the Three Kingdoms, Chin Dynasty, and Southern and Northern Dynasties. At the start, the three leading economic centers of the Han Dynasty (the Three kingdoms) tried to unify the land:
  1. The Cao-Wei Empire (220-265) from northern China
  2. The Shu-Han Empire (221-263) from the west, and
  3. The Wu Empire (222-280) from the east, the most powerful of the three, based on a system of confederation of powerful families, which conquered the Shu in A.D. 263.
During the period of the three kingdoms, tea was discovered, Buddhism spread, Buddhist pagodas were built, and porcelain was created.

Chin Dynasty

Also known as the Jin Dynasty (A.D. 265-420), the dynasty was started by Ssu-ma Yen (Sima Yan), who ruled as Emperor Wu Ti from A.D. 265-289. He reunified China in 280 by conquering the Wu kingdom. After reuniting, he ordered the disbanding of the armies, but this order was not uniformly obeyed.

The Huns eventually defeated the Chin, but were never very strong. The Chin fled their capital, in Luoyang, ruling from 317-420, in Jiankan (modern Nanking), as the Eastern Chin (Dongjin). The earlier Chin period (265-316) is known as the Western Chin (Xijin). The culture of the Eastern Chin, remote from the Yellow River plains, developed a different culture from that of northern China. The Eastern Chin were the first of the Southern dynasties.

Northern and Southern Dynasties

Another period of disunity, the period of the Northern and Southern dynasties lasted from 317-589. The Northern Dynasties were
  • The Northern Wei (386-533)
  • The Eastern Wei (534-540)
  • The Western Wei (535-557)
  • The Northern Qi (550-577)
  • The Northern Zhou (557-588)
    The Southern Dynasties were
    • The Song (420-478)
    • The Qi (479-501)
    • The Liang (502-556)
    • The Chen (557-588)
The remaining dynasties are clearly medieval or modern and so are beyond the scope of this site:
  • Classical Imperial China
    • Sui 580-618 A.D.3
      This short dynasty had two emperors Yang Chien (Emperor Wen Ti), an official of the northern Zhou, and his son Emperor Yang. They built canals and fortified the Great Wall on the northern frontier and began expensive military campaigns.
    • T'ang 618-907 A.D.4
      The Tang composed a penal code and started a land distribution project to help the peasants, and expanded the empire into Iran, Manchuria, and Korea. White, true porcelain was developed.
    • Five Dynasties 907-960 A.D.
      • 907-923 -- Later Liang
      • 923-936 -- Later Tang
      • 936-946 -- Later Jin
      • 947-950 -- Later Han
      • 951-960 -- Later Zhou
    • Ten Kingdoms A.D. 907-979
    • Song A.D. 960-1279
      Gunpowder was used in siege warfare. Foreign trade expanded. Neo-Confucianism developed.
      • 960-1125 -- Northern Song
      • 1127-1279 -- Southern Song
    • Liao A.D. 916-1125
    • Western Xia A.D. 1038-1227
    • Jin A.D. 1115-1234
  • Later Imperial China
    • Yuan A.D. 1279-1368
      China was ruled by Mongols
    • Ming A.D. 1368-1644
      A peasant, Hongwu, led the revolt against the Mongolians to form this dynasty, which improved conditions for peasants. Most of the Great Wall known today was built or repaired during the Ming Dynasty.
    • Qing A.D. 1644-1911
      The Manchu (from Manchuria) ruled China. They instituted dress and hair policies for Chinese men. They unsuccessfully outlawed footbinding.

Thanks to N. S. Gill / About Guide / The New York Times Company


3 Steps To Managing Workplace Conflict With Emotional Intelligence

No matter how great a corporate culture you create, no matter how good a role model you are, it's inevitable that situations will arise that require you to mitigate emotional stress within the ranks. Personal conflicts, outside pressures, and job-related stress will eventually become a factor to be dealt with in any workplace setting. How well leaders handle those situations depends on their emotional intelligence.

Managers often make one of two common mistakes when dealing with an emotional situation.

  • The manager attempts to invalidate or downplay an emotional conflict and becomes a player in the emotional drama himself.
  • The manager simply ignores the job-affecting emotions, hoping they will resolve themselves.

When the manager or group leader tries to downplay or dismiss a worker's emotions, he or she inevitably creates a bigger problem. Not only does this raise the emotional stakes, but it now creates a situation in which negative emotions are directed at the manager. Though this is very common and, arguably, a natural form of response from busy managers with plenty on their plates, it's incumbent upon leaders to avoid leaving an employee feeling slighted in this way.

Likewise, ignoring the problem often creates a snowball effect, where resentment and negative emotions continue to grow, making the situation worse. It's always better to address emotionally-wrought problems earlier rather than later.

There is a three-step formula, however, which comes naturally to emotionally intelligent leaders. It is one that can easily be employed by any manager to take the edge off an emotional situation. This formula does not attempt to solve the problem itself, but is geared toward addressing and neutralizing the emotions so that the problem can then be approached in a more objective and effective manner.

Step 1: Acknowledge

More than anything, people want their feelings to be acknowledged. It may seem overly simple at first, but a statement such as, "I want you to know, I understand you are feeling very stressed right now," can go miles toward lowering the emotional stakes of a situation. Everyone wants to feel understood, and acknowledgment is not difficult or compromising to do. Further, it doesn't concede agreement with the emotional state; only empathy.

Step 2: Positively substitute

There is great power in a positive outlook and almost any negative situation can be framed in a positive light. A manager with emotional wisdom may say something like, "I know you are under a lot of stress, and I know a great deal of it is because you are a great employee and want to do the very best job you can." What the manager has done in this example is to mitigate a negative emotion with the positive emotion of personal pride in a job well done. This doesn't alleviate the first emotion, but it adds a positive perspective into the conversation.

Step 3: Suggest, re-acknowledge and appreciate

Not all situations are within the control of the manager. An increased workload that has come down from above may not be able to be removed, for example. What the manager can do is suggest ways he or she might be able to help, re-acknowledge the emotions involved and offer appreciation for the employee. "I cannot promise anything, but I will try to see if there is any way to lighten your load. I understand you are feeling stressed and I want you to know I really appreciate your efforts." By saying this, you have reassured the employee without making binding promises, and reinforced a sense of empathy and appreciation.

Thanks to Scott Allen / Open Forum / American Express Company


Customer Ideas To Ignore

My first experience in implementing customer-inspired ideas was in college. As a resident advisor working for the university's housing department, I was charged with dreaming up, designing and executing two projects each year. One of these projects was to be centered on programming for student residents.


To discover student needs, I conducted a survey. My plan was unsophisticated but seemingly surefire: Ask residents (my customers) what they wanted and deliver what they wanted. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of one topic: weight loss. I contacted an expert in this field, arranged a series of interactive programs, and advertised appropriately. No one showed.


My takeaway from this experience: Discern what people truly want by observing the actions they take, not listening to what they say. Years later, Seth Godin offered more insight on this concept, stating that "needs don't always lead to demand."


Simply giving people what they say they want isn't a quick path to success. So when customers pitch ideas about what they think will enhance your business, remember to distinguish momentary desire from profit-producing demand.


Sorting through customer ideas to discover what to embrace and which to ignore isn't easy. Not only do you need to distinguish desire from demand, you must assign financial benefits and costs to ideas and make decisions on proper execution.


Customer ideas to be ignored often fall into these categories:


Products and Services Appropriate for a Limited Number of People


Filling niche demand with the long tail of distribution is often the raison d'Ăªtre of the small business owner, but serving too narrow an audience with specialty items can be unproductive. In conversations with business owners and managers, they mentioned requests for certain types of inventory or specific items as ideas most likely to be ignored. Of course, they listened and considered carefully before dismissing the requests as suitable and appropriate for the business.


Questions they pondered included: 

  • Is the customer asking for this item in my target audience?
  • Does this item fit within an established product category?
  • How quickly will this product sell? That is, how long will this product linger on the shelf of my brick-and-mortar store and e-commerce distribution center, tying up inventory dollars that could be producing revenue?
  • Are my competitors able to sell this product at a much lower price point?
  • Will the cost of bringing this product to market outweigh potential profits?

Consider adding a new product or service if it appeals to your target audience and fits within your brand positioning. Evaluate profit margins to determine potential for contributing to the bottom line. Test acceptance of products among consumers or get a purchase order from customers who recommend the item before buying a container load or assigning resources to project delivery.

Extravagant Service Levels Not Sustainable or Compatible with Work/Life Balance


Customers often want instantaneous delivery of products and services, including those that must be highly customized to their preferences and needs. They may suggest extended hours or weekend hours, quicker-than-usual project turnaround, and 100 percent inventory availability.



  • Is your ideal customer someone who typically has short lead times?
  • Can you design a program that will offer preventive services to help customers avoid emergency services?
  • Will charging more for a rush job cover costs associated with delivering results within a strict timeframe?
  • Will working extended hours and weekends bring in greater revenue, or simply spread workload over a greater number of hours?
  • Will inventory turns slow dramatically if extra inventory is kept on hand?

Providing 24/7 uptime may be an integral part of success for your business model. If pricing will support quick responses and spikes in demand (and resources are available), consider offering fast turnaround on a routine basis.


Methods of Growing Sales Without Regard to Profits


Customers may suggest ways to lower prices or restructure offers in a way that they presume will increase sales. Ideas may include volume-based discounts, standalone or single-use pricing rather than package pricing (or vice versa), and lower-end products and services. Customers may accurately predict sales increases but not understand the negative impact on profits.



  • Will product and service expenses become progressively lower when volume increases?
  • Will increasing sales to fewer customers reduce the need for marketing programs?
  • Is your business so booked that reducing prices will lead to overwhelming demand (and increasing prices will appropriately level demand)?
  • Do most customers need to commit to a service for an extended period (six months to one year, for example) in order to derive value?
  • Are customers confused by bundled pricing? Does your target customer typically buy multiple items or need just one item among a menu of items?
  • Will target customers be attracted to lower-end products?

Consider volume-based pricing that will allow you to close deals with key accounts, which can provide steady revenue. Use your judgment to determine whether target customers will gravitate toward full-service (and full-priced) products when presented with tiered offerings that include lower-end items.


Even Zappos sets boundaries, starting with a generous, albeit limited, timeframe on returns. Your business doesn't have to adopt every customer idea in order to deliver happiness.


Julie Rains is a senior writer at Wise Bread, a leading personal finance community dedicated to helping people get the most out of their money.

Use Teachable Moments To Train Your Employees

Equipping people to make excellent decisions is a great idea. But great ideas often collide with day-to-day pressures and overworked, muddled-thinking employees who are ill-prepared to deal with business complexities. When problems that defy flow-charted responses occur, turn them into "teachable moments" as case studies for discovering clarity and making smart decisions.


The teachable moment is the narrow window of opportunity to show employees how business mission, values and goals translate into real-world action. Parents often use this approach when their children encounter difficulties, have questions, and are eager to listen to advice about specific situations.


Don't underestimate the power of this gentle tactic. Teachable moments can give employees the insight needed to navigate business minefields.


Know what you want to teach.


Define the skills that are difficult to teach, such as insights that are seemingly impossible to impart and the knowledge base that is hard to transfer.


For example, show your employees how to:


  • Handle sensitive customer service situations, such as price negotiations or collection issues.
  • Respond appropriately to unusual requests, distinguishing them from fraudulent ones.
  • Deal with a volatile workplace scenario.
  • Get buy-in and collaboration from an uncooperative employee, vendor or customer.

Recognize the teachable moment.


Quickly solving a problem and swiftly dealing with a crisis are reasonable actions of a forward-thinking business owner. You want to stop wasting resources on a past event and forge ahead with new ideas. However, making difficult decisions yourself can deprive your employees of opportunities to learn the intricacies of your business.


One way to readily identify the teachable moment is to know ahead of time what you want to teach, even if the list is not exhaustive. For example, when a credit problem surfaces, recognize that an employee needs a better understanding of vendor reference checking.


You will also need to train yourself to spot people-development opportunities in the midst of day-to-day business activity.


Be willing to have a conversation.


Turning teachable moments into real-life education requires dialogue between you and your employee. Listen to your employee tell you about a scenario, actions that have been taken and those being considered, and concerns about the negative consequences of possible next steps. Provide guidance that helps the employee gain a deeper understanding of your business approach.


Don't simply issue a command or give highly specific instructions. If the employee has no mental engagement, then your conversation has morphed from a teachable moment to a dictatorial one.


Tie lessons to performance goals.


Some people may want answers rather than wisdom, especially those working in fast-paced environments where quick decisions are rewarded. Get the attention of these employees by showing how certain skills, knowledge, and insights you are teaching can help them reach their previously defined and communicated performance goals sooner.


Let employees know that taking the time to apply intellect and nuanced understanding to business decision-making will certainly result in positive performance reviews and merit raises.


Realize that learning occurs over time.


The teachable moment concept requires developing employees through instruction during random events occurring over a period of time, rather than using a curriculum with a distinct beginning and end.


Don't try to convey all of your insights and methods at one time. Focusing attention on a single topic may seem counterintuitive to visionary business owners who want to show how specific instruction is aligned with strategic direction. But in my experience, too much elaboration, discussion, and teaching can be confusing. Even the best of your brightest employees can absorb and act on a limited amount of information. Enlighten employees using ideas relevant to the problem at hand.


As employees gain mastery, they will see problems not evident before and they will uncover underlying causes. Your conversations provide a forum for greater and greater engagement and mutual understanding; as a result, employees better articulate the troubling, complex aspects of any given situation.


Formal training has its place.


Formal training is certainly useful. Vendor-sponsored sessions on new products, community college classes on management principles, certification courses offered by professional organizations, and more can elevate the knowledge and skills of your employees. In-house presentations on the company's mission and values can provide a guide for decision-making. Role-play sessions on topics such as selling the competitive features of a newly launched product or rebuilding loyalty with a disappointed customer can be essential to setting the tone for interacting with people.


As a small business owner, though, you have limited time and resources for educating your employees even if you access low-cost and free sources of training. To get your point across in a memorable way that is immediately useful, tap those teachable moments.


Thanks to Julie Rains / Open Forum / American Express Company



5 Interview Questions Every Small Business Owner Should Ask

Hiring is one of the most important and critical tasks for any small business owner. After all, your business is only as good as your people.

But how do you know who the good people are? And how do you determine which candidates will perform to your expectations? Anyone can put on a good show for a few hours during an interview. What you want are people who will still be good in a few months.

Nothing is certain, of course, but the five questions below will help you see deeper into the candidate's mind and make the decision that is best for your business.

1. Give an example of a time when you had to make a quick decision

Small businesses are, by definition, small. That means that everyone has to share the responsibility. You need employees who can take initiative when necessary and make a decision when it needs to be made. This question forces candidates to demonstrate that they have had to deal with these make-a-call-and-make-it-now circumstances.

2. Give an example of a time when you exceeded expectations

This question gives the candidate a chance to brag about their accomplishments, but the real value can be found in analyzing their approach and thought processes.

Some candidates exceed expectations because little is expected of them in the first place. Others exceed expectations because they understand the root causes of a problem and the nature of the circumstances...and then they take action based on those understandings.

You'll know if you've found the latter based on how the candidate describes the problems faced and their approach to the situation.

3. Convince me that you can adapt to a wide range of people, situations and environments

The goal of this question is two-fold.

First, employees that can adapt to a variety of circumstances are crucial in a small business environment. At some point, it's likely that they will be asked to do something that is outside their normal job description. Employees have to be OK with that and capable of handling such a change.

Additionally, you are asking them to convince you of something. This will give you an insight into how persuasive the candidate can be. Persuasion is critical in small business. In many situations, you are competing against businesses with more money, more resources, and more contacts. If you can't be persuasive, then you will lose.

4. What have you done that demonstrates initiative and willingness to work?

In all likelihood, your employees will be trained on-the-job. It is important to hire individuals that take action and aren't afraid to get into the thick of things. There are few rotational leadership programs or well-organized training courses in small business. Employees need to be ready to jump in and willing to work through the sticking points when they come along.

Moreover, running a successful small business is all about trust. You need employees that you can depend on and believe in, even when you aren't around. If you fill your office with individuals that are self-motivated and take action, then you can be sure that business is moving forward.

5. Why should we hire you?

In a small business environment, candidates will have to prove themselves over and over again. Give them a chance to prove themselves right away.

This question is the perfect way to open things up and allow the candidate to show you what they bring to the table. It's also an opportunity for them to display talents that you might not have thought to ask about during the interview.

Sometimes the most compelling qualities are hidden within our stories. A good hiring manager can pull those stories out as the conversation progresses and this question helps to accomplish that.

James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda. He is an award-winning writer on business strategy and entrepreneurship and has delivered speeches in the United States, the UK, and Switzerland.

Thanks to James Clear / Open Forum / American Express Company


The 10 Worst Things About Owning A Business

Most of the time, being a small business owner is one of the many fulfilling experiences in the world. But then there are days where I wish I could just get a job! Having your own business has many frustrations that are out of your control.

Here are the top 10 worst things about owning a business and how to fix them:

1. Customers that say they will buy my product "next week" but then never do

If you really don't want to do business with me, I would appreciate the courage to simply tell me "no." You won't hurt my feelings by saying your business situation has changed. Solution: Call, write, tweet or text, even in the middle of the night. I appreciate a quick "no" much more than a "yes" that never comes.

2. People that make tons of money with no apparent business skill

Lottery winners I can cheer for. Dumb people in business with a bad idea and even poorer execution that strike it rich just make me cry. But as Jean Couteau said "We must believe in luck. For how else can explain the success of those we don't like?" Solution: Work hard and play the lottery.

3. People that don't respond to my e-mails or phone calls even after I have worked with them 

These aren't cold calls or people I have never met. These are people that have paid me money or I have had lunch with several times. Solution: Let go and forget them quickly. I don't want to do business with anyone that isn't interested. If you don't want to talk, send me an e-mail to buzz off. I won't be insulted, I will be relieved!

4. Customers that don't tell you they can't pay their bill

If you can't afford my product, don't buy it. Don't have me keep calling you with no reply looking for the money you owe. Solution: If circumstances have changed since your purchase, tell me. We will work something out. Lack of communication only leads to frustration and expensive conversations with lawyers.

5. People that are always late for meetings

Who taught you to tell time? If you are not a doctor or the cable guy, you need to respect a meeting time. Solution: Dial your cell phone and say you are going to be late so I don't wonder if I got the date wrong or you are stuck under a bus somewhere.

6. People that cancel a meeting less than an hour before it is scheduled to start

In this fast paced world, schedules can change quickly. However, don't routinely change your mind about meeting me an hour before we are to get together. Please remember that I have not yet mastered teleportation, so I typically need to leave 45 minutes to get to the meeting location on time. Solution: Look ahead at your schedule and cancel the day before if you are no longer interested or your schedule has changed.

7. Banks that reduce my line of credit even though my business is profitable and I have never missed a payment

Most banks do not want to take the risk of lending money to small businesses in this economy. However, don't cancel my line of credit just because my business falls into the wrong industry sector that has a high default rate. Solution: Treat my company as an individual customer (like you promised when you got my business) and look at the merits of each individual loan.

8. State and Federal governments that require a myriad of regulations to run a business

All I want to do is sell my products and services to other people who want to buy them. The variety of laws to be followed and taxes to be paid by a business owner are mind boggling. Solution: Stop trying to balance the government's budget on the back of my small business. If you leave my business alone, I can prosper and pay more taxes to you based on my profit.

9. Insurance companies that charge 25 percent more each year but reduce their benefits by 50 percent

I always have dreams about a business like health insurance where I can raise my prices 25 percent a year and offer 50 percent less services in return. Insurance is now the second largest cost for small business owners. Solution: Look at alternatives every year from different insurance carriers. It's the only way to keep the cost reasonable without passing every increase onto your employees.

10. Employees that  quit their job simply by not showing up

If you no longer want the job, please show up on your last day and politely quit. Don't just leave during lunch and never come back. Please give me a week's notice so the people left at the company don't suffer in your absence. Solution: Call, write, tweet or text so I can hire someone else.

What is the worst thing about running your business? What is your solution?

Thanks to Barry Moltz / Open Forum / American Express Company


What Not To Look For When Hiring: Experience

In the market to hire someone? If you are like most others in business, you place a high priority on the amount of experience that an applicant has. Everyone looking for their next hire seems to look for the "best" employee, as defined by the applicant's experience. Obviously, someone with 10 years of experience is better than someone with two years, right? Not so quick.

What Counts

Realize this -- the thing that you can give someone is experience. You can provide all the skills and experience that you want to. But there are other things that you cannot give them, which makes those things far more important than just having experience. What are those things?

Work ethic. A person's work ethic is going to impact how they feel about their job, which in turn will impact how well they get it done. If they have a strong work ethic, they will be honest, accountable, and responsible. These are all things you want in an employee, or at least should want.

Attitude. Someone's attitude is a big issue if you are bringing them in to work with you, or with a team of others. Attitude is how they convey their feelings, or disposition. The last thing you want is someone with a bad attitude who you are afraid to challenge.

Energy. How upbeat are they when they answer your questions? If it seems to take a lot out of them to respond, it will also take a lot out of them to muster up the energy to get the work done. And when it comes to energy, they can also have an impact on others they work around, for better or for worse.

Intelligence. Even if someone has a degree, that doesn't guarantee that they are intelligent. Having intelligence means having the ability to learn or understand things. It also applies to how well they can adapt to new situations.

Values. This comes down to how well they promote what you consider important for your company. If you value good customer service and honesty, you want to make sure that your employees do, as well, as they will be the ones carrying out that mission.

So, when you are hiring someone, look beyond how much or how little experience someone has. Instead, ask questions that explore what they really bring to the table. Find out what they are like in terms of the important factors listed above.

And if you call to speak to any of their past employers, be sure to inquire about their work ethic, attitude, and energy level.

Latching On
After conducting this type of investigation into the person you are considering hiring, you will know if you have found the right person. Once you do find a match, hire them. Then you can focus on giving them the experience. Experience is something that can easily be gained if they have these other attributes.

After a year on the job, your new employee will not only have the great skills you are looking for in a team member, but will also have experience. That sure beats hiring someone based on experience alone and, a year later, realizing they are still lacking all the other incredibly important traits.

Thanks to Mike Michalowicz / Open Forum / American Express Company


Be The CEO Who Listens To His People

No matter how great a boss you are, you are going to have some dissatisfaction from employees in how you're running the company and how you're treating them. Some employees will want more job perks, and some will have unrealistic thoughts about how a job should be done. The younger employees, in particular, will be inexperienced in business and not understand the realities of your industry.

Here are some ways to handle complaints from employees.

1.  Set up a venting process

There's no doubt that resentful employees are unproductive employees.  Some of your workers will always be resentful over something, but if there isn't a place to vent their frustrations, they will likely infect other employees with their negativity.

The best solution to this is to put a system in place where they can air their grievances. A suggestion box is the most basic way, but many employees don't trust that their suggestions are being read if nothing happens in a short period of time. It's much better to set up systems where there is real verbal communication going on.

Interestingly enough, informal processes often work better. If you're the CEO, you can encourage employees to come into your office and talk. Having an open door policy undercuts potential for disgruntled staff because they know they've been given the opportunity to speak out.

Of course, you might be very busy and your company may be too large for you to realistically handle every subordinate who wants to talk. In this case, instruct your managers and supervisors to have their own open door policy—which is effective for many reasons. The extra communication alone between employees and their immediate supervisors is enough of a benefit to encourage this type of policy.

Just make sure that if you delegate the "open door" system, you give your managers and supervisors the chance to talk to you about their own struggles and grumbles. Otherwise, your supervisors may answer their subordinates with "Yeah, it's the CEO's fault. He won't change anything." Too often, entry-level employees and supervisors bond over dissatisfaction with upper-level management.

2.  Actually listen

This is one of the easiest and hardest things you can do for your business: being a good listener when an employee has a complaint. It's the easiest because it requires little time and zero physical effort. It's the hardest because it requires empathy, patience and a controlled ego.

Suppose you run a car dealership and you have a new salesman coming into the office with an issue. He is complaining that the base salary is too low, and that it's unfair to have such a commission-dominant structure. He thinks that commission should just be a nice bonus and that salespeople should be paid a full salary unconditionally.

Now, you know that implementing his suggestion would be terrible for business. Motivation would plummet, costs would rise, and layoffs would be imminent. In fact, you would probably know where this conversation is going after the first sentence and want to pipe in.


Instead, listen to his entire spiel. Give him 10 minutes of just him talking, if you have to. Chances are he won't make it past three and a half minutes before finishing. As he speaks, nod and take in all he's saying. Let go of any other distractions in your day, and do not think about your other business operations. As the employee is talking, he is the only person or topic on your radar.

After he has spoken, let him know you appreciate his concerns and him coming to you with these thoughts. From there, you can explain the situation and let him know your answer, if you have one right away.  When he leaves your office, he may not have achieved his goal, but at least he will know that he has been heard.

One special characteristic of Japanese body language is that they can nod in a way that lets someone know that the message is received and understood, even if it's not agreed upon.  You need to be able to convey this on your own, both verbally and nonverbally. If your employee can understand that you disagree but care about his experience, he will be much more willing to go along with your plan and be open to the possibility that you were right all along.

3.  At least consider that they may be right

You may find this hard to believe, but sometimes the lowest paid employee in your company may have an idea that can take your industry by storm. There are countless stories of entry-level employees who have impacted large product creations and advertising campaigns.  Google is actually known for encouraging and implementing this type of feedback from all of their employees.

When you hear an idea that may have some potential, share it with some of your managers and maybe some other entrepreneurs you know. Remember that most great businessmen started on the bottom somewhere and that ambitious employee might be the next superstar.  Also, be wary of denying requests based on arbitrary notions like "This is just the way it's always been done," or "This would go against the company culture." Not only is arbitrariness in decisions irritating to all who work with you, but it's counterproductive to building a powerful business as well.

I've worked with a number of CEO's and I can tell you the ones that are most beloved by their teams are the ones who encourage the most open communication and who are generally the most approachable. The ones who discourage open communication are the ones who get the reputations of "trying to squeeze us out of every cent possible."  Remember also that when you implement a change, it's important to give the employee credit who came up with the idea. This makes him or her motivated to work harder, and lets the rest of the staff know that you are a CEO who listens to his people.

Thanks to Neil Patel / Open Forum / American Express Company


7 Things You Didn't Know Google Analytics Could Tell You

Analytics software is a must-have in today's business world, where it's essential to have a powerful online presence. These days, it's not enough to simply have a counter at the bottom of your homepage, tallying visitors. That won't help you understand ways to reach your audience or drive Web growth.

Google Analytics, Google's popular free analytics add-on, can be easily incorporated into the coding of your website, allowing you to access both general statistics and minutiae in detailed, comprehensive reports. Of course, Google Analytics includes basic specs, like how many visitors you're getting, and allows you to refine your information based on date range. But there's a lot more to it than that.

Here are seven things you didn't know Google Analytics could tell you about your business' website:

1. The browsers and operating systems your visitors use

Whether they're coming from Internet Explorer or Chrome, analytics will tell you. Your website's report will show a breakdown of which browsers are used and how frequently. This feature is useful because sometimes Web features are incompatible with certain browsers and operating systems. If a significant chunk of your visitors are using a system that doesn't suit your website, it might be time for you to troubleshoot. Second, browser choice says a lot about your visitor base. If most of them are using a boilerplate program, like Internet Explorer or Safari, your site should be extra user-friendly and easy to navigate. Newer browsers with more bells and whistles, like Chrome, signals Internet savvy.

2. What isn't keeping people interested

It's good to know where your visitors are flocking, but it's perhaps more important to know which page of your website they're viewing when they click away to another site. Funneling resources to features that aren't captivating users is clearly not a smart business move, and Google Analytics can help you avoid making that mistake. By showing you the top exit pages on your website, the program shows you the frequency at which visitors jump ship navigate elsewhere, all broken down by the individual pages of your site. Based on that report, you can decide whether those ill-trafficked parts of your website should be scrapped or just retooled.

3. What draws people to your site

Your Google Analytics Keywords report will list a collection of words and phrases familiar to your organization as the main drivers to your site. But the rate for each of those terms, especially when cross-referenced with the feature that shows how many new visitors are logging on versus returning ones, can be substantially useful in developing a marketing strategy. If you know what's pointing people to your site, you can work backward—explore advertising opportunities with sites that focus on related topics or, if it makes sense, gear your homepage toward the subject matter that's drawing people in. If the point is to captivate visitors and keep them clicking around your site, this tool is a valuable one.

4. How many people just aren't interested at all

Your site can have all the hits in the world, but if people aren't finding their way to your site and staying there to explore, it's tough to foster growth online. To help you better understand how many people are coming to your site to stay, Google Analytics offers you a bounce rate breakdown. So what's bounce rate? It's the proportion of your website's visitors that navigate away without clicking through to other pages. True, you can tally that person's visit as a hit to your site. But there's no lasting power there, and a high rate indicates your site isn't making a strong impression. Check out the bounce rate among first-time visitors, perhaps the purest form of the metric because it deals with visitors who are ostensibly entirely unfamiliar with your website.

5. How much people are poking around

The depth-of-visit function sounds a little Big Brother-esque, but it's important for you to know how many pages people are viewing each time they head to your site. This feature shows the proportion of visitors that view one page, two pages, three pages, and so on. If typically people aren't looking at more than one or two pages per visit, it might be time for a redesign or at least a reorganization of content.

6. Whether people are viewing on the go

The ubiquitous smartphone and tablet means you need to keep up with that technology. If a significant portion of your website's visitors are finding you on their mobile devices, as Google Analytics can show you, you need to be sure your website is mobile-friendly and accessible. In cases where this feature shows you a sizeable enough crop of visitors are seeking you out on such devices, it could be worth it for you to explore building a site specifically designed for use on them.

7. When you've hit a million clicks

Or any other myriad benchmarks you've decided are important. From number of clicks and visitors to increases and decreases in traffic, the alerts feature of Google Analytics provides you instant updates (which can be sent to your phone) to let you know when you've achieved them. This function could help you mark milestones, like when you finally reach that million-visitor mark, or realize you're in the danger zone, like when the number of unique visitors drops by half.

Thanks to Karlee Weinman / Open Forum / American Express Company


Facebook Lessons For Business Owners

Recently, the five small businesses that won American Express OPEN's Facebook Big Break contest spent two days at Facebook's offices in Palo Alto, getting advice on how to use pages, analytics, ads and platform plugins to help grow their businesses.

The attendees—Darquia and Gordon "Big Daddy" Biffle of Big Daddy's BBQ, Bud and Lisa LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens, Mark Carson and Eric Quan of Fat Brain Toys, Dawn S. Grosvenor and Kate Dunn of HOPELights Media, and Stephen Fraser and Gart Davis of Spoonflower—already had considerable experience with Facebook.  They used a variety of tactics to generate votes during the contest, such as running sponsored story ads and creating "voting" events in their hometowns. Being in the room with the Facebook experts—and with each other—brought out more best practices and ideas.

Know your community

Think people first, content second. Don't focus on what you want to tell, instead concentrate on what the customers want to hear—or share. As Mark Carson told me, "The power of social media is in the two-way interaction. We've built up a great base of customers who have great things to say, but we weren't doing a good job of giving them a podium. We've taken that lesson to heart and have already had success in truly engaging our customer base."

It may help to ask yourself: How does this tie into our mission? Rather than think about promoting your products and services, what is your business really about? How can you connect fans to that? In the case of Spoonflower, their business is producing fabrics designed by customers. But their mission is enabling creativity. So with their Facebook page, they're looking for more ways to showcase their customers' talents. Again, it's about putting people first.

Another point to consider is that user-generated content is an inexpensive and less time-consuming means of adding fresh content to your page. Setting up constructs that continuously generate good quality new content is critical to making your page dynamic.

Follow best practices, including:

  • Offer something exclusive. Not everything you post on Facebook has to be distinct from other channels, but don't simply re-broadcast, either. Think about what unique content you can offer, like sneak previews of new products or special offers. A member of the Facebook team shared an example of a bakery that offers "whisper specials" for half-priced items. A fan would learn that day's password from the Facebook page, and then quietly share it with the sales person.
  • Encourage participation. Big Daddy's BBQ looks at Facebook as their "one-on-one" time with customers, accepting ideas and feedback on new menu items.  You can start by simply asking questions.
  • Engage. Talk to your fans and get to know them. Reply to questions and comments, even the negative ones. Again, the community needs to be heard.
  • Make time. Once you start attracting fans, it's critical to keep the page active. At the same time, you don't want to inundate your fans. You should find a posting schedule that works best for your fans, but a general recommendation is start with 3-5 times a week.

To help with this last point, create a content or "conversational" calendar. Among the challenges that some winners cited was the time Facebook takes from their already busy schedules. But advanced planning can actually save you time. Rather than spending time each day thinking about what to post, create a schedule of themes, like Fat Brain Toys who runs a "Free Toy Tuesday" contest, giving away a toy to one visitor each week. On OPEN's Facebook page, we post "Fill in the blank Fridays." Remain flexible to allow for timely announcements, but in general, spend a few minutes on content at the beginning of the week to make updating much easier.

Build on what works

Facebook's Page Insights helped some winners identify surprises in where their fans were coming from, what days and time of day they visited their pages, and what types of content generated the most engagement. Knowing more about your fans and what resonates with them can help you direct your efforts. Still, keep your core business and customers in mind. Even if you have more fans outside of your geographical area than within, that doesn't mean you should completely exclude those who actually come to your store. But you may be able to identify some content that works for both.

These were just some of the recommendations I wanted to highlight; more will soon be available in the Big Break webisodes we filmed during the program (coming soon).

Thanks to Julie Fajgenbaum / Open Forum / American Express Company


6 Ways To Let People Pick Your Brain Without Wasting Your Time

The question I dread the most from business people is "Can I pick your brain?" While I believe in helping others and paying it forward, I am not even sure how this expression got started since it is so visually unappealing. Why would I want someone to literally look inside my brain and take whatever they want? Sounds like the first ever "business horror" flick!

While I understand that not every interaction needs to have financial return, there should be rules that are followed if someone needs "friendly" advice so there is still time to get your work done.

Here are six questions to ask if someone wants assistance without you losing track of your own time and goals:

1.  Paid or peer advice?

Say: "Do you need help as a possible paying customer or just some friendly advice?" This sets expectations on both sides. In each case, you can determine if this a future paying customer or if they just need some casual advice.

2. Be specific

Say: "How can I actually help you?" This focuses the questions so the "brain picker" does not ramble on without finding the help they specifically need. In fact, you have more of a chance to actually help this person in a short period of time if you focus on just one area.

3. Use the phone

 Say: "Sorry, I can't do lunch. Can we talk briefly by phone?" I can't meet everyone in terms of time—and probably weight gain. It takes at least two hours to have lunch between getting to the appointment and having the meal. I know that things can be more productive in person, but in this case, just say no.

4. Make it convenient for you

Say: "This is when I can talk to you." Take these calls strategically and conveniently. I typically do them while I am driving or waiting for a flight at the airport. These are times where I am not looking to accomplish heavy work, but can still focus my energies on helping the person with what they need.

5. Set a time limit and stick to it

Say: "I have 10 minutes." I tell people that I have a limited amount of time and announce it at the beginning of the call. This will also focus their questions. If you haven't been able to help the person in 10 minutes, then they need to seek a free resource that is available or pay you for your time.

6. Set limits

Say: "If you have further questions, please e-mail me."  Limit another phone call. Tell them they can follow up by e-mail, but if more than a few e-mails are sent, see advice in No. 5. While there may be some people you want to invest in on an ongoing basis, these are the guidelines you need to follow for everyone else.

Do you let people pick your brain? Do you have rules that you stand by too?

Thanks to Barry Moltz / Open Forum / American Express Company


Demographics Of Ancient China

Terra Cotta Army Qin Dynasty in Xi'an

Terra Cotta Army Qin Dynasty in Xi'an

CC galaygobi at

As of July 2008, the population of China is 1.3 billion, according to's Geography Guide. That phenomenal number is matched by enormous early population figures.

In "Relocation of Civilization Centers in Ancient China: Environmental Factors," by Duan Chang-Qun, Gan Xue-Chun, Jeanny Wang, and Paul K. Chien, population figures are given as:

  • 13.55 million, in 2200 B.C., during the Xia Dynasty;
  • 20 million in 221 B.C. during the Qin Dynasty; and
  • 59.59 in A.D. 2 under the Western Han Dynasty.

After that, the population falls, and then, a millennium later, surpasses the 60 million figure under the Southern Song Dynasty, in 1193, when it hits 76.81 million.

The Qin Dynasty was the first time China was unified under centralized government. With the ending of wars, iron implements, farming techniques, and irrigation were developed. By the time of the Han Dynasty, 40 million hectares of land were required to feed the population, which meant losing forests and grasslands to the needs of cultivation. Massive building projects, appropriation by the nobles of peasant land, soil erosion, and movement of the people helped reduce the population so that by A.D. 225, under the Three Kingdoms Period, the population was down about a third, to 40 million.

Source: "Relocation of Civilization Centers in Ancient China: Environmental Factors," by Duan Chang-Qun, Gan Xue-Chun, Jeanny Wang, and Paul K. Chien, from Ambio, Vol. 27, No. 7 (Nov., 1998), pp. 572-575.

Thanks to N. S. Gill / About Guide / The New York Times Company


Chinese Dynasties - Timeline Of China


Table A. Chronology of Chinese Dynasties
  • c 21st-16th century BC Xia
  • 1700-1027 BC Shang
  • 1027-771 BC Western Zhou
  • 770-221 BC Eastern Zhou
  • 770-476 BC Spring and Autumn period
  • 475-221 BC Warring States period
  • 221-207 BC Qin
  • 206 BC-AD 9 Western Han
  • AD 9-24 Xin (Wang Mang interregnum)
  • AD 25-220 Eastern Han
  • AD 220-280 Three Kingdoms (San Guo)
  • 220-265 Wei
  • 221-263 Shu
  • 229-280 Wu
  • AD 265-316 Western Jin
  • AD 317-420 Eastern Jin
  • AD 420-588 Southern and Northern Dynasties
    • 420-588 Southern Dynasties
    • 420-478 Liu Song
    • 479-501 Qi (Ch'i)
    • 502-556 Liang
    • 557-588 Chen
    • 386-588 Northern Dynasties
    • 386-533 Northern Wei
    • 534-549 Eastern Wei
    • 535-557 Western Wei
    • 550-577 Northern Qi (Ch'i)
    • 557-588 Northern Zhou (Chou)
  • AD 581-617 Sui
  • AD 618-907 Tang
  • AD 907-960 Five Dynasties
  • AD 907-979 Ten Kingdoms
  • 916-1125 Liao
  • 960-1279 Song
  • 960-1127 Northern Song
  • 1127-1279 Southern Song
  • 1038-1227 Western Xia
  • 1115-1234 Jin
  • 1279-1368 Yuan
  • 1368-1644 Ming
  • 1644-1911 Qing
Source: Based on information from China Handbook Editorial Committee, China Handbook Series: History (trans., Dun J. Li), Beijing, 1982, 188-89; and Shao Chang Lee, "China's Cultural Development" (wall chart), East Lansing, 1964.
Thanks to About Guide / The New York Times Company

Friday, September 16, 2011

Auditing And Assurance Services: An Integrated Approach (13th Edition) By Alvin A Arens, Randal J Elder, Mark S Beasley


Auditing and Assurance Services: An Integrated Approach (13th Edition)

Auditing and Assurance Services: An Integrated Approach (13th Edition)
By Alvin A Arens, Randal J Elder, Mark S Beasley

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Product Description

An integrated and current approach to auditing.


KEY TOPICS: The Auditing Profession; The Audit Process; Application of the Audit Process to the Sales and Collection Cycle; Application of the Audit Process to Other Cycles; Completing the Audit; Other Assurance and Nonassurance Services

MARKET: For individuals interested in the auditing, accounting, and consulting fields.


Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #23828 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-02-08
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 872 pages


Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

  • New: Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and related SEC and PCAOB rulemakings integrated into every chapter.
  • New: Updated material for changes in the auditing profession resulting from recent corporate scandals:
  1. Bankruptcy of Andersen, LLP
  2. Shifting of auditing standards-setting to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)
  3. Spin-off of consulting
  4. Greater focus on internal controls
  • New: Chapter on Fraud (11) added to this edition. Expanded coverage of this topic includes new mid-chapter fraud vignettes in each chapter.
  • New: Increased coverage of Reporting on Internal Controls in Chapter 10, Internal Control and Control Risk.
  • New: 4-color insert of the Hillsburg Hardware Company "Annual Report." The insert provides financial statements and background information to support the Hillsburg Hardware Integrated Case that appears throughout the text.
  • New: Redesigned and integrated audit practice case (Pinnacle Manufacturing) that spans multiple chapters. Students apply concepts addressed in the audit planning and execution phase of the audit.
  • New: Expanded supplements package includes practice sets, case manuals, and auditing assignments using Excel.

About the Author

Al Arens is PricewaterhouseCoopers Auditing Professor of Accounting at Michigan State University. His primary teaching and research area is auditing and he teaches undergraduate auditing at least one term annually. Al is a past president of the American Accounting Association and a former member of the AICPA Auditing Standards Board. He practiced public accounting with both a local CPA firm and the predecessor firm to Ernst & Young. He has received many awards including the AAA Auditing Section Outstanding Educator award, the AICPA Outstanding Educator award, the national Beta Alpha Psi Professor of the Year award and many teaching and other awards at Michigan State.

Randy Elder is an Associate Professor of Accounting at Syracuse University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate auditing courses, and has received several teaching awards. His research focuses on audit quality and current audit firm practices. He has extensive public accounting experience with a large regional CPA firm, and is a Certified Fraud Examiner and member of the AICPA and Michigan Association of CPAs.

Mark S. Beasley is a Professor of Accounting at North Carolina State University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate auditing courses, and has received several teaching awards including membership in NC State's Academy of Outstanding Teachers. His research, which focuses primarily on financial statement fraud, audit quality, and corporate governance, received both the American Accounting Association's Competitive Manuscript Award and the Notable Contributions to the Auditing Literature Award. He has extensive professional audit experience with the predecessor firm to Ernst & Young and has extensive standards-setting experience working with the Auditing Standards Board as a Technical Manager in the Audit and Assurance Division of the AICPA. He served on the ASB's Fraud Standard Task Force responsible for developing SAS 99, and serves on the ASB's Antifraud Programs and Controls Task Force and the Advisory Council overseeing COSO's Enterprise Risk Management Framework project.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Auditing and Assurance Services: An Integrated Approach is an introduction to auditing and other assurance services for students who have not had significant experience in providing such services. It is intended for either a one-quarter or one-semester course at the undergraduate or graduate level. This book is also appropriate for introductory professional development courses for CPA firms, internal auditors, and government auditors.

The primary emphasis in this text is on the auditor's decision-making process. We believe that the most fundamental concepts in auditing relate to determining the nature and amount of evidence the auditor should accumulate after considering the unique circumstances of each engagement. If a student of auditing understands the objectives to be accomplished in a given audit area, the circumstances of the engagement, and the decisions to be made, he or she should be able to determine the appropriate evidence to gather and how to evaluate the evidence obtained.

Thus, as the title of this book reflects, our purpose is to integrate the most important concepts of auditing and other assurance services as well as certain practical aspects in a logical manner to assist students in understanding audit decision making and evidence accumulation. For example, internal control is integrated into each of the chapters dealing with a particular functional area and is related to tests of controls and substantive tests of transactions; tests of controls and substantive tests of transactions are, in turn, related to the tests of details of financial statement balances for the area; and audit sampling is applied to the accumulation of audit evidence rather than treated as a separate topic. Technology, e-commerce, and fraud issues are integrated throughout the chapters.


Chapter 11 On Fraud Auditing and Expanded Fraud Coverage

A new chapter on fraud auditing provides expanded coverage of the auditor's responsibility for assessing the risk of fraud and detecting material misstatements due to fraud based on the fraud triangle in SAS 99. The chapter includes coverage of corporate governance and other factors that reduce fraud risk. Specific fraud risk areas and procedures to detect fraud are also discussed. Most other text chapters include new vignettes highlighting specific examples of fraud.

Coverage of Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Related PCAOB and SEC Rules

The requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and implementing rules adopted by the PCAOB and SEC are integrated throughout the text. The effects of the Act on the accounting profession are discussed in Chapter 2, and revised SEC independence requirements are described in Chapter 4 on professional ethics. Chapter 3 on audit reports includes an example of reporting on internal control required for public companies by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and evidence requirements for reporting on internal control are included in Chapter 10 on internal control. Additional requirements of the Act are incorporated throughout the text.

Hillsburg Hardware Annual Report

The annual report for the Hillsburg Hardware Company is included as a four-color insert to the text. Financial statements and other information included in the annual report are used in examples throughout the text to illustrate chapter concepts.

Pinnacle Manufacturing Integrated Case Example

The Pinnacle Manufacturing integrated case has been modified to represent a larger, multi-division company, and expanded from four to six parts. Each part of the case is included at the end of the chapter to which that part relates. The parts of the case are connected so that students will gain a better understanding of how the parts of the audit are interrelated and integrated by the audit process.

Internet Problems and Margin Links

All chapters include an Internet-based case/homework assignment that requires students to use the Internet to research relevant auditing issues. New and updated Internet-based margin links appear in every chapter, providing information on current events, companies, and professional standards.


The text is divided into six parts.

Part 1, The Auditing Profession (Chapters 1-5). This book begins with the demand for auditing and a study of the demand for audit and other assurance services. Chapter 1 emphasizes new assurance services being offered by CPA firms such as WebTrust and CPA ElderCare Services. Chapter 2 covers the CPA profession including organization of CPA firms, the AICPA, PCAOB, and the SEC. In Chapter 3, there is a detailed discussion of audit reports. It emphasizes the conditions affecting the type of report the auditor must issue and the type of audit report applicable to each condition under varying levels of materiality. Chapter 4 explains ethical dilemmas, professional ethics, independence, and the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. Chapter 5 ends this part with an investigation of auditors' legal liability.

Part 2, The Audit Process (Chapters 6-13). The first two of these chapters deal with auditors' and managements' responsibilities, audit objectives, general concepts of evidence accumulation, and audit documentation. Chapter 8 deals with planning the engagement and using analytical procedures as an audit tool. Chapter 9 introduces materiality and risk and shows their effect on the audit. The study of internal control and assessment of control risk are discussed in Chapter 10, which emphasizes a proper methodology for obtaining an understanding of the five components of internal control. Chapter 11 is a new chapter on fraud auditing that describes the auditor's responsibility for assessing fraud risk and detecting fraud. The chapter also includes specific examples of fraud and discusses warning signs and procedures to detect fraud. Chapter 12 addresses the most important effects of information technology on internal controls in businesses, risks the auditor must consider, and audit evidence changes. Chapter 13 summarizes Chapters 6 through 12 and integrates them with the remainder of the text.

Part 3, Application of the Audit Process to the Sales and Collection Cycle (Chapters 14-17). These chapters apply the concepts from Part 2 to the audit of sales, cash receipts, and the related income statement and balance sheet accounts. The appropriate audit procedures for accounts in the sales and collection cycle are related to internal control and audit objectives for tests of controls, substantive tests of transactions, and tests of details of balances. Students learn to apply audit sampling to the audit of sales, cash receipts, and accounts receivable.

In response to an increased emphasis on nonstatistical sampling by practitioners, Chapters 15 and 17 emphasize nonstatistical sampling rather than statistical methods. Chapter 15 begins with a general discussion of audit sampling for tests of controls and substantive tests of transactions. Similarly, Chapter 17 begins with general sampling concepts for tests of details of balances. The next topic in each chapter is extensive coverage of nonstatistical sampling. The last part of each chapter covers statistical sampling techniques.

Part 4, Application of the Audit Process to Other Cycles (Chapters 18-23). Each of these chapters deals with a specific transaction cycle or part of a transaction cycle in much the same manner as Chapters 14 through 17 cover the sales and collection cycle. Each chapter in Part IV is meant to demonstrate the relationship of internal controls, tests of controls, and substantive tests of transactions for each broad category of transactions to the related balance sheet and income statement accounts. Cash in the bank is studied late in the text to demonstrate how the audit of cash balances is related to most other audit areas.

Part 5, Completing the Audit (Chapter 24). This part includes only one chapter, which deals with summarizing all audit tests, reviewing audit documentation, and all other aspects of completing an audit.

Part 6, Other Assurance and Nonassurance Services (Chapters 25 and 26). The last two chapters deal with various types of engagements and reports, other than the audit of financial statements using generally accepted accounting principles. Topics covered include WebTrust, SysTrust, other assurance services, review and compilation services, agreed-upon procedures engagements, attestation engagements, other audit engagements, internal financial auditing, governmental financial auditing, and operational auditing.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful.
4Very good textbook
By RMurray847
No textbook is really worth 5 stars, in my estimation, because that is reserved for books that actually entertain me! Textbooks seldom do that. However, this auditing text is pretty darn good. Each chapter is packed with true case studies, which are all interesting. The actual text material is easy to understand and read. There are HOARDS of questions, simulations, etc. in the back of each chapter. And the online materials the come with it are good as well, including some basic videos. I came into my auditing class with little knowledge of that specific subject. I felt I left it some weeks later with a good understanding (good enough to pass the Auditing portion of my CPA exam on the first go around). So if you're assigned this text for YOUR auditing class, be happy. It's pretty good, and won't put you instantly to sleep...not many texts can say that!!

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
5A great book
By Dr. Ricardo Coelho
I have been an auditor for the last seven years and I can assure you that Prof. Arens book is excellent. Even if you have a working experience with audits you will find that this book is not the usual "text book"

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
4Good textbook, could be slightly better
By California Dreamin
I've taught a graduate class based on the 12th and 13th (current) edition of this textbook several times. In general this is one of the better textbooks I use. It is 95% accurate and up to date, and it is 70% complete, and it's focus matches the purpose of the class. Changes I would like to see in the next edition include:

* Discuss the use of flashcards to pass the CPA exam, encourage flashcard study habits, and list suggested flashcards for this class.
* Expand coverage of general ethics concepts; how to determine the correct action when in an ethical "grey area".
* Add an accounting workpaper style guide.
* Add training on writing accounting memos for various purposes.
* Add coverage of the accounting close process, the players in this process, and on the negotiation of AJEs between auditors and management.
* Explain methods of accounting research used to resolve disputes between auditors and management.
* Describe the AU codified auditing standards and methods of research therein.
* Improve coverage of SOX opinion, OCBOA (tax basis) opinions, and IFRS audit opinions.
* Increase emphasis on cut-off testing and other tests for the completeness assertion.
* Discuss PCAOB AS5, and related SEC management guidelines.
* Increase coverage of specific entity level controls, audit committee independence and effectiveness, related matters and example checklists.
* Cover Excel techniques for auditors.
* Trim the last chapters on specific business cycles which contain excess material that is not particularly useful, nor relevant nor up to date.
* Edit the book more thoroughly; we found a few errors.
* Expand the table of contents.
* Improve or omit the software on the CD. The software I looked at is not particularly useful nor user friendly.



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